Life gets busy as a personal trainer! Training clients, making connections with prospective clients, writing programs, scheduling, marketing and admin all take up a considerable amount of time. With all the hats we have to wear, it can be difficult to find time for personal trainer professional development, but there are three very important reasons why you should do so.
Most fitness facilities will require you to be registered with an industry registration body, such as Fitness Australia, before they will employ you.
These registration bodies require you to prove your continuing professional development by earning credits or points for completing courses or workshops that help improve existing skills and teach you how to develop new ones. In the case of the biggest registration provider, Fitness Australia, you need to earn 20 Continuing Education Credits (CECs) in every 24-month period in order to renew your registration every two years.
The aim of registration is to maintain high standards within the industry. It’s essentially a quick and simple way for employers to see that you have been investing in your professional development with reputable education providers.
Each continuing education course is allocated a credit unit according to the quality and duration of the program or event. A good tip: courses, programs or events that include an assessment will have higher credits allocated.
Whether it’s a program, event, workshop, seminar, conference, official education course or a self-directed learning module, Fitness Australia lists more than 600 CEC programs and events in Australia.
The largest single provider of these courses is Australian Fitness Network. ‘Network’ as it’s known is part of the Australian Institute Of Fitness and has been leading the way in professional development for the fitness industry for over 30 years. It offers over 60 online courses on topics ranging from Nutrition and Women’s Health to Strength & Conditioning and Corrective Exercise.
Other ways to obtain CECs include completing a first aid course, mentoring students, peer observation or teaching in an approved program.
What the health and fitness industry considers to be the most effective way of training or eating changes continually according to new research. Training modalities and nutrition approaches that are championed today may be in the sin bin tomorrow.
There are many different opinions in this industry, so in order to provide educated recommendations to your clients and enhance their success, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest findings.
According to reports from IBISWorld, Australians are becoming more engaged with their fitness journeys, seeking to improve their health and quality of life. They pay personal trainers for their expertise and expect you to know the latest developments in the field. With mainstream media carrying stories daily about new health and fitness-related findings, clients are likely to have heard about new developments, and to question you about them.
What they don’t have is the expertise to place the information into context and understand whether it’s a genuine breakthrough or just marketing hype dressed up as such. It’s even more important, therefore, for personal trainers to be on top of the real story.
Many years ago, we didn’t know that smoking was that bad for us; ten years ago, we didn’t know that long periods of sitting were as detrimental to our wellbeing as they have subsequently been shown to be. In ten years’ time research will undoubtedly have shown us the error of our ways in some other area that we currently deem perfectly acceptable. To stay at the forefront of our industry, personal trainers must stay on top of the science.
Every client wants an inspiring, knowledgeable and effective trainer. Demand for personal trainers is on the rise as people seek to adopt healthier lifestyles. This creates more competition, so you need to stand out. How? By upskilling!
Consider what would make a client choose you over the other personal trainers working in your club, or the next local PT they find online. While personality matters, if you can offer something more – in the form of skills, knowledge or varied exercises – you’ll stand out.
Online, you can list and illustrate these points of difference. In the gym, prospective clients can see you practicing them with your current clientele. Clients want someone who is going to get the best results for them, while preferably making it an enjoyable experience. Being on the cutting edge of industry trends and research can help you be this trainer.
It’s not just the technical trends that you need to be skilled in, it’s the personal ones too. Professional development courses can help personal trainers become excellent planners and communicators that are able to listen more than they talk, and empower clients to achieve their goals.
The fitness industry attracts great people with incredible energy, so an added bonus of attending in-person upskilling events is the opportunity to meet like-minded fitness professionals who are just as passionate about training clients as you are. It’s also a great way to increase your self-assurance, because you’ll be more confident in your ability to deliver safe, effective and fun sessions.
On top of this, continually learning and developing your skills is a way to practice self-health. In a role where you give a lot to other people, it’s very important to take time out for yourself in order to avoid burnout. Maintain your interest and enthusiasm for your career by feeding your own quest for knowledge, attending courses and practicing new exercises and drills in your own training regime, for later use with clients.
There are lots of options for professional development courses out there.In addition to its fitness professional qualification courses, the Australian Institute of Fitness offers the largest range of ongoing education courses through Australian Fitness Network, which has been pioneering fitness professional upskilling for more than three decades.Check out over 60 online courses on everything from Nutrition and Women’s Health to Strength & Conditioning and Corrective Exercise.
Suzanne is a former Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness in NSW.